Sunday, July 8, 2012


This is not fiction. It actually happened in a village near Bangalore a couple of days back. Gangamma aged 23 made a suicide pact with her mother Kote Lakkamma to commit suicide and also poison her three year old son Ranjan.

Gangamma's husband had deserted her as soon as the child was born to live with another woman. He has not been heard of since.  His parents taking pity on Gangamma gave her and her mother a house and helped her monetarily as a kind of expiation for their son's sin. Her mother took up a job as an attender at a college leaving her alone in the house with her child. Gangamma  developed a friendship with her neighbour Jayamma's  son Isha which led to love and intimacy resulting  in her getting pregnant. They kept their affair a secret  Her  relatives noticed the physical changes in her and on close questioning she had to disclose the truth. By then  the pregnancy had advanced too far to abort the child. Relatives and village elders asked her to convince Isha to marry  her. She contacted Isha several times pleading with him to marry her but he apparently was not prepared for it. . She called Isha nine times within the span of two hours on the night she committed suicide and each time he refused to  marry her. Disappointed and distraught, fearing ignominy and ostracism from society,  mother and daughter thought they had reached the end of the tether and there was no way out but to end their lives. They could not imagine life for the three year old orphan after their death and thought it best to end his life as well.The mother brought the pesticide from the college laboratory and they both carried out their ghastly plan after bolting the door. Their neighbours found them lying unconscious when they broke the door next morning and on rushing them to the  nearest hospital they were declared dead on arrival.  She left two suicide notes one for Isha saying  " Isha just forgive me and lead a happy life. I dont want to create troubles for you. You are not responsible for the current situation. I am responsible for everything. Dont worry, my death will not cause any problems for you. Sorry Isha, sorry, sorry, sorry, forgive me"  The other suicide note was for her relatives "No one is responsible for my death. I am responsible for  all the problems. I should not have done this. Forgive me".

What does this sordid tale tell us about our society and our double standards in respect of moral values when it comes to women? The husband deserts his young wife with a newborn child,  the friend and companion to whom she turned for solace ultimately succumbing to his vile designs disowns her lets her down badly even after repeated pleas to save the situation. Betrayed twice by two men one her lawfully wedded spouse and the other a friend companion turned lover. Reminds me of the poem by Oliver Goldsmith:

WHEN lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?
The only art her guilt to cover,        
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover
And wring his bosom, is—to die.

But her ultimate sacrifice did not wring the bosom of her lover nor send pangs of guilt in her spouse. There was not a touch of complaint or accusation in her suicide note. She took the entire responsibility on herself.  I think her mother did a  mistake in taking up a job leaving her all alone in the house  instead of finding her daughter a  job and looking after the child. This would have made Gangamma worldly wise to some extent, if not street smart. She would have been better able to face the crisis. In the West girls in similar situation would have no second thoughts but to bring up the child born out of wedlock as a single  mother, no qualms about it nor does the society there look down upon such women. Probably our society would take another century to come anywhere near such liberalistic views. It would also need better education for  the girl child and the adolescents.  Till then, our women will continue to suffer in silence seeking nothing but the ultimate solution to put an end to their misery. We do nothing about it, taking the fatalistic view - aurat teri yehi kahani !

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